|Location||Saudi Arabia, Ash Sharqiyah|
|Central coordinates||49o 53.80' East 27o 22.10' North|
|IBA criteria||A1, A4i, A4iii, B1i, B2, B3|
|Altitude||0 - 5m|
|Year of IBA assessment||1994|
Site description Five uninhabited coral islands (Harqus 27°56'N 49°41'E, Karan 27°44'N 49°50'E, Kurayn 27°39'N 49°50'E, Jana 27°22'N 49°54'E, Jurayd 27°11'N 49°52'E) in the northern Arabian Gulf, 35-90 km offshore. Island areas range from 2 to 120 ha (total c.190 ha), with a maximum elevation of 3-4 m, and they are surrounded by extensive, shallow coral reefs. There are wide, sand beach platforms, and the central parts of the larger islands are well-vegetated with Salsola and Suaeda, and Mesembryanthemum after good rains. The islands support local fisheries, and are valuable for recreational diving.
Key Biodiversity See box for key species. The site is considered to be the most important breeding site for Sterna bengalensis in the world. See box for key species (numbers of terns are 1991-1993 three-year-averages). Other breeding species include Galerida cristata, Melanocorypha bimaculata (irregular) and Calandrella brachydactyla (irregular). The islands are used as a stopover site by considerable numbers of passage migrants (mainly passerines), especially in spring.
Non-bird biodiversity: Reptiles: important breeding populations of sea-turtles Eretmochelys imbricata (E) and Chelonia mydas (E). Invertebrates: the surrounding coral reefs are thought to be the best-developed and most diverse in the Gulf.
|Species||Season||Period||Population estimate||Quality of estimate||IBA Criteria||IUCN Category|
|Socotra Cormorant Phalacrocorax nigrogularis||breeding||1991-1993||30 breeding pairs||good||A1, B2||Vulnerable|
|Lesser Crested Tern Thalasseus bengalensis||breeding||1993||24,250 breeding pairs||medium||A4i, B1i||Least Concern|
|Greater Crested Tern Thalasseus bergii||breeding||1993||3,500 breeding pairs||medium||A4i, B1i||Least Concern|
|Saunders's Tern Sternula saundersi||breeding||1993||2-3 breeding pairs||good||B3||Least Concern|
|Saunders's Tern Sternula saundersi||non-breeding||1993||50 individuals||good||B3||Least Concern|
|White-cheeked Tern Sterna repressa||breeding||1993||10,400 breeding pairs||medium||A4i, B1i, B3||Least Concern|
|Bridled Tern Onychoprion anaethetus||breeding||1993||34,400 breeding pairs||medium||A4i, B1i||Least Concern|
|A4iii Species group - waterbirds||breeding||1993||72,550 breeding pairs||good||A4iii|
|Energy production and mining||oil and gas drilling||likely in short term (within 4 years)||majority/most of area/population (50-90%)||very rapid to severe deterioration||high|
|Little/none of site covered (<10%)||A management plan exists but it is out of date or not comprehensive||Not assessed||low|
|IUCN habitat||Habitat detail||Extent (% of site)|
|Land-use||Extent (% of site)|
|Notes: Collection of seabird eggs occurs regularly.|
Acknowledgements Data-sheet compiled by P. Symens and A. Suhaibani.
Related state of the world's birds case studies
References Basson et al. (1981), Symens and Evans (1993).
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Recommended citation BirdLife International (2015) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Gulf coral islands. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 03/07/2015
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